[b-hebrew] Tense

Rolf rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no
Mon Dec 17 08:28:20 EST 2012

Dear Chavoux,

See my comments below. 
Mandag 17. Desember 2012 12:31 CET skrev Chavoux Luyt <chavoux at gmail.com>: 
> Shalom Rolf
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: "Rolf" <rolf.furuli at sf-nett.no>
> > To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > Cc:
> > Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2012 14:12:31 +0100
> > Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Tense
> > Dear Chavoux,
> >
> > Se my comments below.
> <snip>
> > RF: Regardless of our view of the Classical Hebrew verbal system we must study the text that we have. There are many orthographical variations, but if we accept the dates given in the different books; thus accepting that the text was written down over a period of several hundred years, the text is remarkably uniform.  If we take bad grammar into consideration, each scholar must, when he detects a clause that contradicts a particular view, ask whether this may be caused by bad grammar. We can illustrate the situation by looking at some of the examples above and the use of the negation L(.
> >
> > Judges 6:4 tells us three things, which are connected wit WAW (and): And they camped (WAYYIQTOL), and they destroyed (WAYYIQTOL),  and they did not let anything remain (YIQTOL). The reason for the use of YIQTOL is that the verb is preceded by WAY+negation. if the negation was removed, the WAW would have been prefixed to the YIQTOL and would probably have been pointed as a WAYYIQTOL.
> >
> > Daniel 12:8 tells us three thing which are connected with WAW (and): And I heard (QATAL), and I did not understand (WAW+ negation+ YIQTOL), and I said (WAYYIQTOL with paragogic he). The explanation is the same; if the negation was removed, the WAW would have been prefixed to the YIQTOL  and would probably have been pointed as a WAYYIQTOL.
> >
> > 2 Samuel 22:38-39 tells us seven things which are connected wit WAW (and): And I pursued (YIQOL), and I  destroyed (WAYYIQTOL), and I did not turn (WAW+negation+YIQTOL) and I finished (WAYYIQTOL), and I crushed (WAYYIQTOL), and they could not rise (WAW+NEGATION+YIQTOL), and they fell (WAYYIQTOL). here we have the same situation as in the two other examples. Note also the clause-initial YIQTOL.
> >
> > 2 Samuel 2:28 and 1 Samuel 1:13 follow the same pattern. Can the use of the YQTOLs in these cases be caused by bad grammar? I see no reason for that, because the same pattern is followed in all the examples, and it is a logical pattern. There is no temporal differences between the WAYYIQTOLs and the YIQTOLs, and why should there be any aspectual diffrence? The YIQTOLs rather than WAYYIQTOLs are used for syntactical (pragmatic) reasons, because they are preceded by a negation that prevents the WAW  to be prefixed to the verb.
> >
> >
> > Best regards,
> >
> >
> > Rolf Furuli
> > Stavern
> > Norway
> Thanks Rolf, I think I understand you better now. Do I understand you
> correctly, that in _narrative_ (i.e. typically starting with QATAL and
> then continuing with WAYIQTOLS) when there are "inbetween" words, like
> LO, the WAYIQTOL changes to a W'"inbetween word" YIQTOL, with
> basically the same meaning as "WAYIQTOL" (but _not_ the same meaning
> as YIQTOL without waw - possibly followed with WAQATAL)?

My basic point is that the WAYYIQTOL is a YIQTOL with prefixed WAW. A narrative is a description of a sequence of events. It has past reference and needs not start with a QATAL. Most WAYYIQTOLs occur in narratives, and the verbs carrying the action forward in a narrative have past reference. The problem is that the clauses in a narrative with WAYYIQTOLs are not transparent. This means that we see the past reference (their outside nature) , but we cannot know whether the past reference is pragmatic or semantic (the inside nature). We cannot know whether the WAYYIQTOL represents grammaticalized past tense or the perfective aspect and the past reference therefore is semantic; or whether the past reference is caused by the narrative itself and the form is imperfective.

The situation is similar in more than 90 percent of the clauses of Classical Hebrew; we can see the temporal reference, but we cannot know at the outset know what causes this temporal reference, if particular verb forms have an intrinsic past or future reference or not. In order to find the meaning of the conjugations we must analyze clauses that are more transparent than the narrative clauses.

While we cannot know the real nature of the narrative WAYYIQTOLs, we can learn much from a study of the use of YIQTOLs with past reference. Of the 1,027 YIQTOLs with past reference I discuss in my dissertation, 896 have one or more words preceding. In the Classical Hebrew writings we find and excessive use of the conjunction WAW ("and") (compared with moderns styles). I argue that in terse narrative style, the rule is that the WAW (in the form of WAY-) is prefixed to the YIQTOL verbs (=WAYYIQTOLs). But when the author finds it necessary to place one or more words before the verb, the WAY- element cannot  be prefixed, and the result was a YIQTOL. Because this happens so often, not only in connection with the negative L), but with many other particles and words as well, we have a good case in favor of the narrative WAYYIQTOL verb is a YIQTOL with a prefixed WAW. If the preceding elements were removed, in accordance with the rule, the YIQTOL would become a WAYYITOL,

Students are taught that when YIQTOLs are used with past reference, they normally represent what is called "durative past."  An interesting test  when YIQTOLs occurr in a past setting and the action is interpreted as continuing or iterative, would be to  ask whether this kind of action can be demonstrated by the context, or whethter the interpretation solely is based on theory. Proverbs 31 was recently mentioned, and a good question would be: How can we know that the YIQTOLs in this chapter signal "durative past" but the WAYYIQTOLs do not have this force?

As mentioned, most clauses with WAYYIQTOLs are not transparent, but some are.  In my disertation I give examples of WAYYIQTOLs with present and future reference, and WAYYIQTOLs having different kinds of imperfective characteristics. So, it important to analyze clauses where the real nature of the verbs are visible.

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli


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